‘Let’s face it’ knowing how to sew a facing will make a big difference to the garment you are sewing. Sewing facings just gives the finishing touch to the neckline. Mastering the technique of sewing a perfect round neck facing or a V-neck facing is always going to bring the best outward appearance to your dressmaking.
Aim to “face-up’ to this task early on in the process of sewing facings to a beautiful neckline and you will be very pleased with the results.
What is Facing in Sewing
If you are new to sewing and your pattern calls for a facing, you may be asking yourself what is facing in sewing? A facing in sewing is simply a strip of fabric used to finish and hide the raw edges of a neckline or armhole.
In simple terms, it will have the same shape as the neck or armhole and you will sew it to the outside of the garment with right sides together, clip any curves or corners and then press it to the inside, therefore making it invisible. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Well, it is.
An alternative to sewing facings is to use bias tape or to fully line the garment. The disadvantage of full linings is that the extra fabric can be costly and it can add unnecessary bulk.
How to Make a Facing Pattern
If your pattern does not include a facing it is easy to make a pattern piece for the facing.
Simply use the front or back pattern with the neckline as a guide and transfer the curve of the neck onto a piece of plain paper or tissue paper.
Then mark the distance from the neckline to the outer edge of what will become your facing and draw the outer curve to complete the facing.
Generally, a facing will be 2-3 inches wide (5-7.5cm).
If necessary add seam allowance and markings too.
Place the pattern piece on the front or back pattern piece to check and mark any direction arrows for the grain of the fabric. The center front or back will be on the fold to match the center of the garment.
Sewing Facings: Round
I have shown you here how to do a neck facing, but sewing an armhole facing uses the exact same technique.
Step One: Preparing the facing
Cut out your facing according to the pattern. Make sure you pay careful attention to all the notches and markings as accuracy is very important.
If your fabric is thin, cut out matching fusible interfacing and iron this onto the wrong side of each facing piece. Remember to use a pressing cloth so that the sticky side of the facing does not get attached to your iron.
Step Two: Stitching
Stitch together the garment shoulder seams and the shoulders of the facing.
Trim the seam edges and press them open ready to match with the neckline.
TIP: Do not stitch up the side seams at this point as it is easier to do the facing when your garment is still flat.
If your fabric frays, neaten the outside edge of the facing with your serger or pinking shears. A simple zig-zag stitch will also work.
My mother always turned the outside edge over once and straight stitched it but I generally find this method a little tricky on really curved neck pieces. You will notice this method in many vintage sewing pattern instructions.
Match the facing to the neckline with right sides together. It is very important to match the shoulders and notched markings exactly to ensure the facing fits perfectly.
Pin with pins closely together and in a vertical position so they hold the facing firmly in place.
Further reading: How to pin fabric for sewing
Stitch in the normal way with the specified seam allowance, gently follow the curve of the facing.
Step Three: Trimming and Topstitching.
When you have completed the inside curve of the facing, then trim the edges and snip at regular intervals to allow tension in the neckline to be released.
Press the facing to the inside of the garment.
Open the facing away from the garment to complete the process with a line of stitching close to the edge of the facing piece.
This is called understitching and will ensure your facing lies flat when turned to the inside. Stitch 1/8 inch (3mm) from the seam line through the facing and seam allowance underneath. The outside of the garment should not be caught in.
The other alternative to understitching the facing is to do a topstitch.
Topstitch around 1/4 inch (6mm) from the edge of the neck on the right side and through all layers (garment and facing).
Once you have understitched or topstitched the facing, give it a final press to help the facing sit flat.
You might like to hand stitch a few little stitches to secure the facing at the shoulders when you have finished the garment.
Sewing Facings: V-Neck
Step one: Start Stitching
Follow step one and two of the round neck facing until you are ready to stitch the facing to the neckline.
Make extra sure the point of the V in the facing is exactly matching the V point on the garment. Place a pin in this exact spot facing down, or use a removable marking pen to show where the tip of the V is when you are ready to sew.
Step 2: Sewing the V-neck
Stitch down the side of the facing following the seam allowance until you reach the v spot marked.
Make sure the machine needle is in the material at this point. Lift the foot of the machine and turn the fabric so that the machine can stitch one stitch straight across the V point. It is necessary to make one straight stitch here before turning to continue up the other side.
Once again leave the needle in the fabric and lift the foot. Turn and stitch up the other side. This will finish the V-neck stitching line.
Step Three: Trimming and Topstitching
Clip into the V first of all and clip as close to the straight stitch as possible.
Trim each side of the facing and clip the curved edges to release tension.
Then press in the same way as the round neck facing. Now you can topstitch or understitch your V-neck facing easing carefully around the point.
Press the garment and admire your handiwork.
A well- executed round or V-necked facing is always going to give a professional finishing touch to the garment you are sewing. Follow the steps suggested in this tutorial for sewing facings, keep it neat and accurate and you will be sure to succeed.